HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Connecticut nursing homes want greater access to available beds in other such homes that are part of an experiment dedicating them to discharged hospital patients recovering from COVID-19.
“Today these centers only address hospital surge patients,” representatives of several state nursing home industry organizations said in a written statement Thursday evening. “However, as those numbers continue to decrease, the alternative recovery centers should be made available to accept transfers directly from other nursing homes or assisted living communities.”
They cited recent numbers showing at least one case in 238 of the state’s nursing homes or assisted living centers. New data released Thursday shows more than 2,000 confirmed and probable deaths related to COVID-19 in the homes.
Josh Geballe, Gov. Ned Lamont’s chief operating officer, said there is flexibility to help nursing homes that cannot properly separate residents for infection control.
“There is still significant additional capacity in those COVID recovery sites that we’ve stood up,” said Geballe, noting there are currently 267 people in those facilities. “But there’s significantly more capacity than that, and people are being discharged from them every day.”
Connecticut is in the process of dedicating homes as COVID-19 recovery sties to free up about 800 beds in hospitals. The long plan was to contract with more nursing home operators and have 1,175 beds available in COVID-19 recovery homes, state health officials said.
The concept has been introduced in some other states, including Massachusetts and Utah, but not on as large a scale as in Connecticut.
For most people, the virus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough, that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, or death.
In other coronavirus-related developments around Connecticut:
The Hartford HealthCare system has begun testing children under age 12 for the coronavirus.
The ramped-up testing comes amid concern over a rare childhood syndrome believed to be linked to COVID-19 that can cause inflammation and serious problems in organs, including the heart.
Dr. Lucia Benzoni-Diek, a pediatrician with Hartford HealthCare, said the condition, which is believed to affect about one in 1,000 children with the coronavirus, could complicate plans to reopen schools in the fall.
The syndrome, which is similar to Kawasaki disease and occurs after someone has recovered from COVID-19, can be treated but is unpredictable, she said.
“It’s going to be kind of hard, unless we do some active screening for the active disease, to keep it out of the schools and out of the day care settings,” she said. “It is a scary risk. The benefits of opening versus the benefits of staying closed are going have to be weighed very carefully.”